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'Singularly up to the job': Hope Center coworkers remember Cecil Dunn as a director on a mission

Hope Center YouTube Channel

Colleagues, admirers, and thousands whose lives were deeply impacted by him are remembering Cecil Dunn – the longtime director of Lexington’s Hope Center. He passed away on Saturday after a brief illness.

Dunn enjoyed a long legal career that saw him wear many hats, but it’s his decades-long stint leading a beloved organization dedicated to providing housing, shelter, and hope for countless people facing homelessness in Lexington that’s at the heart of his legacy.

Dunn was director for most of the six years Brooke Raby worked for the Hope Center. She remembers a kind, driven, and engaged presence that always had the big picture in mind.

"Cecil was singularly up to the job of making sure the Hope Center lived up to its mission."
Former Hope Center employee Brooke Raby

On a personal level, Raby recalls Dunn as a man who knew where his heart led him.

"He was funny. He knew everything and was always so determined to make everything work. He had a tremendous amount of self-confidence that was driven by his desire to do the best for the largest amount of people," Raby says. "We loved him. We felt so inspired working with him."

Dunn was a Richmond native. He is survived by his wife, Judy Gish, and three sons, Patrick, Michael, and Geoffrey.

He was 86.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.